Holllywood Party
Written and filmed March, 1933 - March, 1934. Released by MGM, June, 1934. Produced by Harry Rapf and Howard Dietz. No director credited. 68 minutes.

Cast: Jimmy Durante, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Lupe Velez, Charles Butterworth, Polly Moran, Jack Pearl, Ted Healy and the Stooges, Robert Young, Mickey Mouse.   

STORY: The story, what there is of it, concerns Jimmy Durante, an actor reknown for his portrayal of Schnarzan, the jungle-action hero. Concerned that his popularity is slipping in favor of "that other jungle guy," Durante determines that wrestling lions in his next film will be sure-fire box office (yep, a year in the making and this is the story they chose). Lion owners Stan and Ollie show up at his door and are soon involved in a reciprocal egg-breaking routine with Lupe Velez. Lupe breaks eggs in the boys' hats and down Ollie's pants; they, in turn leave eggs on her barstool. The scene is played slowly and methodically, allowing for the maximum milking of laughs.

JL: Since THE HOLLYWOOD REVUE OF 1929, the All-Star Extravaganza had grown up a bit. No longer a program of isolated, unrelated acts, the approach by the early thirties was for a studio to pack as many stars as they could afford into a film and connect the whole thing with a silly and superfluous plot which allowed room for a turn from each participant. Occasionally, as with Paramount's INTERNATIONAL HOUSE, the results were a charming diversion. Too often, however, such films turned out like HOLLYWOOD PARTY.

     But, oh, how they tried for this one! Over a year in the making, HOLLYWOOD PARTY was nevertheless a production riddled with problems from the start. At first. MGM announced that the production would feature its top stars (Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery, etc.), even though none of them had yet signed a contract. The script was haggled over and rewritten dozens of times by a revolving door of writers. So many directors came and went that, by the end, nobody wanted to take credit for the thing. And for all the time, money, and effort poured into the resulting mess, it was Laurel and Hardy, improvising a few scenes during a four-day loanout from Hal Roach, who effortlessly stole the show.

     For all the fuss and over-preparation that went into this film, it is fittingly ironic that a few ad-libbed minutes from Laurel and Hardy are the best thing in the film. It is no wonder that they received top billing over nominal star Durante, even though they are onscreen for no more than about twelve minutes.